Thursday, July 1, 2010


I enter Kit's home with a modicum of trepidation and it's not because of the less than warm welcome from her dog. As I pass through the entry all I can see ahead is blue sky and the turquoise expanse of Darwin Harbour. Once I establish my land legs, so to speak, and realize I am seeing Cullen Bay from a less than emblematical perspective, it occurs to me that this is the ideal place for an artist to work; under the expanse of the clear tropical skies. How romantic, I think.
Unfortunately any sign of romantic parady is soon divorced from my thoughts as I am escorted away from this picturesque scene. Kit's studio is a pokey and congested room at the back of her home where the view offers a glimpse of the passing traffic below and little else. Nudging elbows with books and brushes allows for sitting space - just.
There is an almost overpowering smell of turpentine flavoured with linseed. Nothing in this well used space has escaped the splattering of a burnt umbra or ultramarine. I have the claustrophobic feeling of being completely engulfed by Kit’s ‘shed’.
All this may seem a little strange from a photographer’s point of view where light and panoramic inspiration is a 'tool of the trade' so to speak. But Kit takes her work seriously and the distractions of jostling yachts and colourful bunting in the marina are only to be appreciated outside working hours.
Kit is a painter. It's her chosen profession. Let me make it quite clear. Kit is not retired. She has a real job - she is an artist. Anyone who takes her lightly will find themselves on the receiving end of a more than brutal look of disapproval and contempt; something akin to what a nurse might give to a lingering relative at the bedside of a patient. A possible relic of a past life, perhaps.
Some eight or so years back Kit was given a box of charcoals and some drawing paper. It would be hard to imagine that such a gesture would be so decisive in the formulation of Kit’s future path.

Now, as Kit explains the process that brings one of her works of art (one of a series of ten paintings on historic sites in and around Darwin) to its conclusion, I listen attentively to a person who has come to terms with who she is and what she will do with her life. In our short time together I learnt of texture and technique, palettes and paint, brushes, board and what Kit calls ‘The Artist’s Eye’. This is common ground and, without further discussion we can comprehend the commonality of all artists.
Beyond the technique there is, within us all, an ability to find the ‘art’ in our line of sight. This ability goes by many names: talent, creativity, vision, but I especially like Kit’s terminology: ‘The Artist’s Eye’.
Kit describes how she is able to use it in a discriminatory manner to select what is needed of a landscape to ‘make’ the picture. I recall Gary Collins and Serena Kuhl both implying this way of seeing was innately necessary for the artist to achieve his/her goal. Worth investigating further? I think so.

Kit displays a genuineness in front of the camera that encourages me to find the person inside. I find it hard to separate her from her work so I allow the backdrop of paintings to engulf her. My concern as I leave, encouraged by a growl from her dog, is that I have done Kit justice. Has my ‘photographer’s eye’ mirrored what I have found in this unlikely place? If I haven’t it will give me a good reason to return. There is more to learn here as Kit merges her life with her art.

Thanks Kit

No comments:

Post a Comment